Incarceration Effects on a Child

Running Head: INCARCERATION EFFECTS Incarceration Effects on a Child Abstract When a parent becomes incarcerated inside a prison whether, the offenders are not the only ones affected. The impact of incarcerating a guardian affects the family on the outside. The children and the remaining guardian, if any, face severe consequences. Studies have shown that children whose parent(s) is incarcerated leads to many psychological, emotional and social disturbances. Imprisonment, incarceration for any length of time, is a life-interrupting event that damages society.

Prison rates are raising therefore more and more families being subjected to the effects on incarceration. More and more correctional institutions are accepting family pleas for more family visitation programs. Incarceration Effects on a Child This world today has too many children growing up without mothers and fathers. Many of these parents are not deceased which makes one question where are these caregivers? These guardians are in a place, a place where no one individual wishes to be, called prison.

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The number of prison inmates is rising and with that comes a higher number of children to be raised without one parent for a certain amount of time. More than five million people inside the United States of America are under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Many of these individuals are in a state or federal prison. According to the research of Eddy and Reid (2002), “Of the 1,366,721 inmates held in state or Federal prison in 1999, over half (i. c 721,500) were parents. These parents had an estimated 1,498,800 children under the age of 18 years (Eddy and Reid, 2002 p. ). This number has risen dramatically since 1990; in 1990 the amount of children affected by the loss of a parent due to incarceration was nearing 500,000 children (Eddy and Reid, 2002 p. 1). These children who were already subjected to crime by their parents are now five times more likely than the average child to end up in a prison themselves (PBS 2009). Life is changed the minute the parental being commits the crime. A lot of incarcerated parents are of single parents, trying to survive and making money through crime to meet financial needs.

With that lone parental guardian gone these children are now misplaced. Countless numbers of children now are bound to live with another relative; many are sadly entered into the foster care programs. The domicile is ruined for this child. There will no longer be that sense of familiarity, life for the child will not be as customary as it once was. The offspring of the incarcerated parent are often ignored and are left with many scary emotions that they keep to themselves.

Many young children to do understand the concept of prison, they are too young to understand what a crime is, and what their parent has done. At a very young age children of incarcerated parents begin to harbor negative beliefs about the criminal justice system. They do not understand why mommy or daddy went away and they start to blame the system for ripping their family apart. Johnston (1995) had studied the effects of incarceration on children of different ages. The following is from his concluded research: “As children grow older, the impacts of separation by incarceration appear to become more serious.

For children between two and six, ability to develop autonomy and initiative may be damaged by the trauma of the parents’ criminal activity and/or arrest, and parent-child separation due to incarceration. The long-term impacts of parental incarceration may be worst at this stage, because children can understand and remember traumatic events, but lack the ability to process them without help. In middle childhood (7-10 years), parental arrest and incarceration may have major impacts on social adjustment: many children in this age group develop aggressive behaviors and difficulty getting along with others, particularly in school. (Johnston, 2005) Johnston (1995) also concluded that early adolescent (11-14 years) children of prisoners have typically had multiple experiences with parental crime, arrest and incarceration. While some are able to overcome the absence of a parent by developing stable, productive patterns, many children of prisoners display maladaptive behavioral patterns and reject limitations on their behavior. Late adolescence is the period over which children develop a cohesive identity, the ability to engage in adult work and relationships, and the capacity to become independent and self-sufficient.

By this stage of life, many late adolescent children of prisoners have experienced a lifetime of disruption and trauma related to parental incarceration. The cumulative effects of this manifest themselves in decreased likelihood of reunification, increased delinquency, and negative perceptions of the criminal justice system. In summary, parental incarceration and related enduring trauma, separation, and inadequate care interfere with child development, resulting in negative long-term outcomes, including intergenerational incarceration (Johnston 1995).

At this stage of life many children drop out of school and begin to follow the same wrong path that their parent has. Adolescents tend to harbor the opposite emotions. These pre-teens and teenagers are emotionally distorted. These kin tend to become angry, confused, depressed, and isolated from society. According to Lucy Gampell, “The impact of a parent’s imprisonment on a child is similar to that of bereavement and the situation is made worse because many feel they cannot reveal where the parent is.

Sometimes young children blame themselves, as if they have done something wrong, which is why mommy or daddy is taken away. ” (Community Care Co. United Kingdom, 2006). These children tend to face many problems, and a lot of them are embarrassed to seek help because they are ashamed of what their mother or father has done. These children will be able to seek professional help without the fear of humiliation. The kinfolk have done nothing wrong; they are unfortunately subjected to these unwanted emotions because of their parents’ doings.

Separation of the child and parent can also lead to feelings of abandonment, sadness, anger, eating disorders, lower academic performances, and disruptive behavior as noted by Johnston in 1995 and Block and Potthast in 2001 (Johnston, 1995, Block and Potthast, 2001). An imprisoned parent often will not be able to have much contact with their child. Yet, many states are changing the visitation programs and are allowing moms and dads to have bonding times with their children. Parents who are incarcerated often wonder how their child is doing, and what they are doing, with all the free time on their hands it can be all one thinks bout. Visitation programs are deemed helpful to maintain good conduct of the inmates. According to Parke and Clark-Stewart (2002) research an incarcerated mother once said,” the main advantage of the visits are tightening up the relationship, watching your children grow, how you’ve changed, being able to love one another” (Parke and Clark-Stewart, 2002, p. 12). The correctional facilities have reacted to parents pleas and have developed many visitation programs for mothers and until recently added some new ones for incarcerated fathers.

Mothers tend to be a bit different from the fathers. Many incarcerated females come to prisons pregnant, According to Covington (2002),” these children experience a variety of prenatal stressors such as the mothers drug and alcohol use, poor nutrition, high levels of stress associated with criminal activity and incarceration” (Covington, 2002, p. 8). These children can flourish correctly and normally in society if the mother can obtain and maintain the needed nutrition, medical care, and healthy lifestyle.

There is a need for more correctional care for pregnant incarcerated women. According to Drummond (2000),” Most states make no special arrangements for the care of newborns in prison. After delivery, mothers and babies are typically separated–sometimes within hours. The infant is sent to live with a family member or goes straight to foster care. New York, Nebraska and Washington State are exceptions; prisons in these states have nurseries in which infants are allowed to live with their mothers for a year to 18 month” (Drummond, 2000, p. ). Correctional facilities need to have more type of nursery programs; these types of programs benefit not only the baby but the mother. The mother is able to bond with her child, and the child can sufficiently receive the nourishments from a mother’s breast milk and love. The longer a pregnant woman is incarcerated for the healthier her baby will be. This can be due to the better medical care received, better nutrition and overall improved prenatal care. The visitation programs that are offered are beneficial to the child and the parent.

A child is able to express how she or he feels, and can start a healing process. Visitations are helpful in keeping the inmate on good standing to have these visitations, and well as helping the inmate deal with the emotional issues of separation and incarceration. Many people frown on visitation they fear that it will harm the child and deter any constructive progress toward the emotional well being of the child. A normal visitation that would be given for an adult to an adult shall not be considered when a parent is visiting with a child it shall be different.

In a normal visitation both parties must be still, a child would be unable to clearly interact with their parental being. In an enhanced visitation program, physical conduct is allowed and expected. Many states are allowing enhanced visitation programs. According to a press release from Cranston Rhode Island, there is a Saturday morning Father Child Visitation Program, which has been in place for a while and allows fathers to interact with their children alone, without any other adult visitor present. Fathers can bond with their children and promote positive relationships, which Corrections director Ashbel T.

Wall II promotes, he exclaimed, “We know that offenders who leave our custody with a place to live, a job, and strong family ties have a much higher likelihood of staying out of prison. Programs like this are a win/win for everyone involved” (Press Release, 2007). The programs established in Rhode Island have been so beneficial to those involved that they have been expanded from male to female medium and minimum security facilities. Another fine example of enhanced visitation lies in the Tennessee Prison for Women facility.

According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections Website, “The Tennessee Prison for Women allows women, mothers and grandmothers to have weekend visitations with their children and grandchildren from three months to up to the 6th birthday. The Tennessee Prison for women has established separate quarters for these visits, just as some prisons establish separate quarters for conjugal visits. There are simple guidelines that come with the bonding, one child per visit, the mother must be classified as a medium or less custody level and be free of all class “C” disciplines for at least 90 days and have no class “A” or “B” disciplines.

The mother also must complete a parental skills class, and the child must have passed all application standards. The mother or grandmother must supervise the child at all times, failure to do so will jeopardize the visit and future visits” (TN. DOC) Children are the silent victim of criminal activity completed by their parent. Society overlooks these children, and then wonders why crime rates are rising as time passes on. There needs to be more children orientated programs for those affected by a parent’s incarceration or involvement in crime.

Children are tomorrow’s future, and if we give up on them today, then we are to be blamed for our futures demise. Prevention stops problems. References (2006, August 10). Parents in Prison: The effects on children. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from Parents In Prison: the effects on children-10/08/2006-Communitycare. co. uk Web site: http://www. communitycare. co. uk/Articles/2006/08/10/55261/parents-in-prison-the-effects-on-children. html Covington, Stephanie S. (January 30-31, 2002). A Woman’s Journey Home: Challenges for Female Offenders and Their Children. National Policy Conference.

From Prison to Home: The effect of Incarceration and reentry on Children, Families, and Communities. 2-18. Drummond, Tammerlin (2000, October 29). Mothers In Prison. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from Mothers in Prison-TIME Web site: http://www. time. com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,58996,00. html? iid=digg_share Eddy, J. Mark, & Reid, John B. (Dec 2001). The Antisocial Behavior of the Adolescent Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Developmental Perspective. National Policy Conference From Prison to Home: The Effect of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Communities. -20. National Center on Fathers and Families. (1998). Fathers in Prison: A Review of the Data (NCOFF Brief: Fathers In Prison). Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania. Parke, Ross. D. , & Clarke-Stewart, K. Alison (December 2001). Effects of Parental Incarceration on Young Children. National Policy Conference. From Prison to Home: The Effect of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Communities. 1-23. PBS, Troop 1500 Inmate Mothers. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from Independent Lens, Troop 1500, Inmate Mothers, PBS Web site: http://www. pbs. rg/independentlens/troop1500/mothers. html The Impacts of enhances Visitation Programs: A Research Synthesis. L. I. F. E. The Living Interactive Family Education Program, Retrieved March 24, 2009, from http://extension. missouri. edu/fcrp/lifeevaluation/visitsimpact. htm RI. Gov. (December 24, 2007). RIDOC Parent/Child Visitation Program Fosters Positive Relationships Cranston: DOC. RI. Gov. TN. DOC, Inmate Programs, Child Visitation Program. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from Child Visitation Program Web site: http://www. tn. gov/correction/inmateprograms/child. html

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